Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


TGIF, Dear Readers!

For this Fun Friday, I decided to do something a little differently. Instead of a mere writing prompt, let’s do an exercise that will help us clarify what we really want to achieve.

This exercise is inspired by an article Martha Beck wrote in January’s issue of O Magazine. She tells the story of a few women who felt that achieving a single goal would bring them happiness, but once they had what they wanted, it actually had the opposite effect. One of the reasons for this, Beck surmises, is that the women focused on the noun of the goal (what they wanted) rather than the adjectives of the goal (how it would make them feel).

If you’re game, let’s begin.

  • The first step is to choose a goal that matters to you. Admit to your real desires, and pick the biggest, most ambitious one.
  • Step two: imagine what your life would be like if you achieved that goal.¬†Create a detailed fantasy about it.
  • Step three: generate adjectives. List adjectives that describe how you feel in your fantasy. Beck advises that this is a simple task, but it is not an easy one, as it “requires you translate holistic, right-brain sensations into specific, left-brain words”. The minimum amount of adjectives you must come up with is three.
  • Step four: Focus on anything that can be described with your adjectives. This is where you step away from your fantasy and focus on your adjectives. Maybe those three adjectives bring your goal into sharper focus. Beck gives the example of having a goal of losing ten pounds, but your adjectives are strong, healthy, and confident. Studying your adjectives, you realize that your actual aim is to get fit. Losing ten pounds on a diet might make you thinner, but also a couch potato who doesn’t have the energy to leave the house, which isn’t what you really want.

So, give it a try, and post your results as a comment…or not. I’ll do the same with mine. What did you discover about yourself and your goals? Did you do any “tweaking”?

Have a great weekend, everyone. Thanks for being here!

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  1. Story Teller

    My goal: to make a living as a full-time fiction writer

    Adjectives: Free, creative, happy and content. Secure. Fulfilled.

    Sad to say, I can’t think of another time in my life when I felt all of those things. I did feel a lot of them when I ran my own business, but I wasn’t fulfilled because I knew I should be writing fiction, and I wasn’t secure, because I always had to worry about when the next assignment would come (I realize writing novels won’t give me 100% security, either).

    I feel creative, happy, and content when I’m working on a book and it’s going well. I’ll feel secure and more free when I’m out of debt, because a lot more options will open up for me. I feel fulfilled when I am working toward my goals and seeing progress.

    So this exercise tells me I’m on the right track, but I don’t have an easy substitute for my initial goal, like others will.

  2. Kim

    I’m not going to do the exercise publicly, but I do agree with the concept. I’ve been in many situations where I have wound up thinking, “careful what you wish for.” — or like that Garth Brooks song — “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers.” But I am sort of thinking in terms of relationship status here more than anything else.


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